Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Friday, July 29, 2016

Bridge of Sighs

Shorter Megan McArdle: Because Trump and Clinton have similar polling numbers, there is little difference to people between Trump and Clinton's campaigns. This means that Clinton's pedestrian oratory skills are a serious problem.

Concern Troll is concerned.

Heh, McArdle thinks she's qualified to give Clinton advice (that Clinton has already been following).
Clinton is lucky to have an opponent who is also not very good at public speaking. But after last night’s speech, I’m not sure she’s lucky enough. At the beginning of the week, I echoed a point made by Sean Trende of Real Clear Politics: Clinton is so weak that against a candidate with very high unfavorable, she has turned this election into Generic (D) against Generic (R). With GDP growth coming in at 1.2 percent this morning, well below estimates, Democrats cannot afford to have that generic election; because when economic growth is weak, voters tend to turn against the party of the incumbent. Clinton must remind voters that all other things are not equal. She and Trump are not equally qualified to be president.
Only in McArdle's fondest dreams are Clinton and Trump considered equally electable. She doesn't want Trump to win but she wants to preserve the illusion of Republican authority, dignity, and successful governance. She can't have both, unless Democrats also attempt to preserve the illusion instead of going on the attack while the enemy is weak.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Trumpette Blows!

It's your party, you can cry if you want to.

I haven't seen so much washing of hands since Monk went off the air. Megan McArdle:
“If Trump wins (or comes close),” writes my friend Tim Lee, “liberals are going to need a better answer than writing half the electorate off as racist.”
No, they won't. We already know that the Republicans will attempt to convince everyone that Trump has nothing to do with the racist, sexist, authoritarian conservative voters that have propelled Trump to the Republican nominee for president of the United States. They will probably be successful, but we don't have to make it easy for them. The Republican Party nominated Trump because the Republican voters wanted him. If the elite don't like their followers they can find new ones.
As the Democratic National Convention lurches off to a chaotic start, let me offer one answer: Hillary Clinton is a terrible, terrible candidate.
McArdle will attempt to equate Trump and Clinton and their parties because Both Sides Do It usually works for conservatives, but these are not usual times. This is Trump we are talking about. It wouldn't matter if Clinton were as dumb as Sarah Palin and as nutty as Michelle Bachmann. She would still be infinitely better than Trump.
Don’t get me wrong: Trump is a terrible candidate too. Both of them have appallingly high unfavorable ratings, and enough name recognition that those unfavorables aren’t likely to change all that much. But the Republican Party can at least say that their problem candidate was foisted upon them when a series of cosmically unlikely decisions by no-hope candidates split the party’s normal factions just long enough for Trump to consolidate what was left over.
McArdle is, of course, wrong. She is almost always wrong about politics. She sees what she wants to see, predicts what she wants to see happen, and ignores anything that threatens her beautiful mind.

The Republicans did this to themselves, which McArdle will never admit. They whipped up anger and resentment against the liberals to get conservatives to the voting booth and they destroyed respect for authority to undermine liberal leaders and policies. They have had a clown's car full of candidates for years but only this year do they have Trump. The right voted for the lesser of two evils for years, and now they are voting for pure evil, in the political sense. Eventually, that's always what happens when you vote for the lesser of two evils.
The Democrats chose Clinton. Indeed, her party actively beat back alternatives, funneling all the money and the attention to Clinton, who brought all the well-known Clinton baggage with her, and sadly, did not bring any of her husband’s charm, charisma, or skill at working an audience.
None of that matters, because Trump. However, since McArdle considers Scott Walker, who has all the personality of a ham sandwich, a viable and vital candidate, we couldn't trust her opinion under any circumstances.

McArdle takes a swipe at the DNC as well, which funneled donations back to Clinton, but any genuine problems with Clinton don't matter that much because Trump. Trump trumps all problems with Clinton, and it is genuinely amusing to think that the right might have beaten her if they had not undermined their own success so thoroughly.
Before I go on, I should stop and say: this is not about whether Clinton would be a good president. This is about getting to the Oval Office in the first place.
Hahaha! No, it's about Trump. People who don't care about politics will care about keeping Trump out of office. After the Brexit vote I'm no longer certain, but I am almost certain Trump will lose.
We are not living under a parliamentary system where the party leadership can decide, after a brief internecine squabble, who gets to sit in the big chair. In American politics, you have to actually get elected. It’s not enough to be effective at party politics, or even a wizard at policy. You have to actually be good at making people like you. Something that Clinton has never shown much aptitude for.
No, you have to convince voters that you will run the country better than the other guy. Who is Trump. Case closed.
Being only middling likable myself, I’m certainly sympathetic. But you see, this is one reason that I am not running for president, and why, if I ever suggested such a daft thing, I would hope that the people around me would stage a tactful yet firm intervention.
This post is noticeable for all the stupid things McArdle says but it's more notable for all the things she doesn't say. McArdle completely ignores the opposite side of her argument. Lawyer, former First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State, Clinton is qualified, well-known, and seasoned. She will also be the first female president of the US, something that will excite many voters.
Instead, everyone around her rushed to enable her dream --
Why would they do that? Who would care whether or not one person dreamt of being president? The idea that the Democratic Party was indulging Clinton's ambition is ludicrous. McArdle assumes that everyone else thinks like she does and her explanation of others' motivations only reveals her own lack of emotional maturity. The Democratic Party knew Clinton could raise the money and win so they backed her, just like parties have always done.
and put the party in a position where it now has a real shot at making her the woman who lost the Oval Office, not just to Barack Obama, but also to Donald Trump, a man who clearly struggled over whether to distance himself from the Ku Klux Klan; a man who stage-managed his own convention into a series of own-goals, from his wife’s plagiarized speech to the sight of a primary rival getting booed off the stage; a man who started off his post-convention campaign by rambling about a theorized connection between said primary rival’s dad and the man who shot President Kennedy. Bill Clinton could have defeated Trump with one hand tied behind his back, a bag over his head, and a debilitating case of laryngitis. His wife is, at this point, struggling to hold even. I still think she’s a favorite to win. But it never should have been close enough for anyone to care about the size of Trump’s post-convention bounce.
It's true that Clinton shouldn't be anywhere near Trump in the polls but that's what happens when McArdle's party undermines the country for political gain. Demagogues try to grab office and venal conservatives cheer them along. Bragging that anyone can defeat her party's candidate for presidency just makes McArdle look bad, not Clinton.
Notice that I haven’t even gotten to the e-mails -- a story that broke in March of last year, the point at which it was still, if barely, possible for someone to sit down and say “for the good of the party, I’m afraid you need to develop a serious health issue that will require you to drop out of the race.”
It must kill her that nobody cares about Clinton's servers. If that scandal didn't exist McArdle would find or invent a new reason why Clinton absolutely had to quit or be chased off.
Instead, the left half of the political spectrum solemnly agreed with themselves that this was a non-story, a three-day wonder, nothing for us to worry about. I am sympathetic to this decision only because by that point there was no one else, the entire machine of Democratic politics having been turned into a purpose-built vehicle for the Clinton candidacy. But why did the Democratic power brokers settle on Clinton back then? She could easily have ended up facing a much more viable opponent, like Scott Walker or Marco Rubio or John Kasich.
People who couldn't beat Trump are supposed to beat Clinton? No. Walker is a threat? His legal troubles would drown Clinton's, he destroyed his state's economy, and he's not very bright. Rubio? He practically has "puppet" stamped on his forehead and he couldn't even win Florida, with 27% to Trump's 46%. As political analysis goes, this is childish.
How can we explain this? For one thing, I think Clinton’s candidacy -- like Trump’s candidacy, in its own, very different way -- points to the fatal weakness of the political parties. Decades of “good government” reforms have systematically stripped the power that parties once had: to control money, to control committee assignments, to control how much pork politicians get to brag about to the voters back home.
McArdle probably thinks it's clever to blame the results of the Citizen's United decision on people who are trying to get rid of Citizen's United. It is sleazy. McArdle doesn't explain how any of these supposed reforms resulted in Trump; the Party had the money to back Jeb! and Rubio and committee assignments and pork projects have nothing to do with Trump's nomination. The parties lost control over money when Citizen's United opened the doors for billionaires to walk through. The Republicans did this to themselves.  Citizen's United was a lawsuit to permit a group to make a movie that was supposed to eliminate Clinton as a candidate. The Republicans fought tooth and nail to destroy themselves and McArdle cheered them along.

 Now McArdle tries to pin the right's failure on the left. What else can she do but lie and mislead? She's in the Party of Trump.

What’s left is a hollow shell that cannot effectively respond to either grassroots insurgencies or to outsize figures who effectively turn the party apparatus to their own ends. If you think, as I do, that parties play a vital role in organizing political action toward coherent goals and long-term accountability, that’s something that should worry you.
That should worry McArdle, who is now a Trumpette. Too bad the right gave up coherent goals and accountability long ago. They could use some of that now. But we will do our best to watch the right implode without laughing sobbing in fear like McArdle.
My other working theory is simply that the left committed the cardinal sin known as “reading your own press releases.” The left loved the “demographics is destiny” arguments that seemed to promise them a glorious future of uninterrupted rule. I cannot count the number of liberals who solemnly assured me that there was not going to be a Republican president in 2016, or any other year in the foreseeable future, because demographics.
Evidently she can't name them either. We can safely dismiss any of McArdle's unbelievably convenient unsourced anecdotes and even if we couldn't, her argument would still be dumb. Demographics took a back seat this election because Trump. The Republicans have created a brave new political world with unlimited money, and so far it's not working out for them.

Now McArdle has to work harder to concern troll liberals and we all know how much she hates that.
These freelance demographers failed to note that these sorts of demographic predictions have been made before, and broken down before, as one or more solid demographic groups suddenly started switching to the other party. The true believers also tended to forget that these predictions were about the future. At this moment, those old white folks are still breathing, and voting.
Is she referring to the Southern switch from racist Democrat to racist Republican? The racists are very happy with Trump, thanks very much, and aren't likely to become Democrats again.
So demographics don't guarantee a win. Neither did the Republicans' choice. As Sean Trende tweeted today: “Hillary is unpopular enough that she has made this basically generic R v generic D. Unreal. She better have a hell of a convention planned.” She’d certainly better, because right now, she and Trump are in a dead heat. She’ll almost certainly pull away again when she gets her own convention bounce. But again: It should never have been this close.
Yes, and what a pity for McArdle that none of that matters because Trump is loathsome and must lose for the dignity, self-respect, and functionality of the country.
If Trump wins the presidency, there will be a lot of reasons, and a lot of blame to go around. But one factor, and some-much deserved blame, will be the decision to anoint Clinton as the candidate long before the primary had even started. I don’t blame Clinton for this, because upwardly mobile politicians like her all think they have what it takes to become president, and they do their utmost to get themselves into that coveted job. But there were a lot of people who ought to have known better. Either they didn't, or they didn’t act on that knowledge. If Clinton doesn’t manage to pull this out, that decision will haunt them for years to come.
It's not easy to simper and scold when you are a Trumpette, but McArdle does her best, or rather her worst.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

She Built That

Megan McArdle Donald Trump rants against Obamacare Republican elites.

Donald Trump predicted doom for American when he accepted his nomination for Republican presidential candidate and Megan McArdle was aghast.
What did the delegates at the Republican National Convention like?
Mostly, they liked disliking things. And being afraid of things. And especially, Donald Trump, who is afraid of so many things, and dislikes them all.
The world portrayed by Trump as he accepted the presidential nomination was a sunless place, wracked by economic decay and under siege by foreigners who want to kill us. If it wasn’t ISIS, it was illegal immigrants, sneaking across the border to murder our children. The only rays of light in this bleak dystopia are the police who stand ready to beat back these dangerous hordes, and of course, Trump himself, who alone has the power, through steely will and the awesome depths of his love for the once-great American people, to replace the crumbling mortar of our civic virtue and re-lay the cornerstones of our lost prosperity … to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless … to slow the rise of the oceans and begin to heal our planet ... to end a war and secure our nation and restore our image as the last, best hope on Earth … oh, wait, sorry, somewhere in there I seem to have mixed up my presidential candidates.
McArdle, who is powerless to do anything else, is releasing an ocean of snide against Hillary Clinton, which we will delve into in another post. Meanwhile, she aims her junior high scorn at Donald Trump, a worthy target, but her anger and disgust at his fear-mongering sounds awfully familiar.

Trump isn't the only person who tried to gain power and achieve his goals by predicting death and destruction if he isn't obeyed. Megan McArdle paved the way for Trump with years of shrieking about death panels, death spirals, and killer doctors. When Obamacare passed she nearly came unglued.
Regardless of what you think about health care, tomorrow we wake up in a different political world.
Parties have passed legislation before that wasn't broadly publicly supported. But the only substantial instances I can think of in America are budget bills and TARP--bills that the congressmen were basically forced to by emergencies in the markets.
One cannot help but admire Nancy Pelosi's skill as a legislator. But it's also pretty worrying. Are we now in a world where there is absolutely no recourse to the tyranny of the majority?
The tyranny of winning an election! We must stop elections at once, so losers never have to watch winners pass legislation!
Republicans and other opponents of the bill did their job on this; they persuaded the country that they didn't want this bill. And that mattered basically not at all. If you don't find that terrifying, let me suggest that you are a Democrat who has not yet contemplated what Republicans might do under similar circumstances. Farewell, Social Security! Au revoir, Medicare! The reason entitlements are hard to repeal is that the Republicans care about getting re-elected. If they didn't--if they were willing to undertake this sort of suicide mission--then the legislative lock-in you're counting on wouldn't exist.
Oh, wait--suddenly it doesn't seem quite fair that Republicans could just ignore the will of their constituents that way, does it? Yet I guarantee you that there are a lot of GOP members out there tonight who think that they should get at least one free "Screw You" vote to balance out what the Democrats just did.
McArdle got her wish, just not in the way she expected. (And isn't that always the way with wishes?) A lot of GOP members, encouraged and incited by Miss Megan, did decide to give a giant "Screw You" to balance out what the Democrats did. They just gave the finger to the elite who promised to eradicate Obamacare and failed, over and over and over. The good little authoritarians were so fed up with being hustled that they hustled themselves to the voting booth to punish everyone who had ever disappointed them.
If the GOP takes the legislative innovations of the Democrats and decides to use them, please don't complain that it's not fair. Someone could get seriously hurt, laughing that hard.
Actually, Trump decided to use GOP tactics to hurt the GOP. And now nobody's laughing, because the Republicans screwed up, encouraging the authoritarian right because they are obedient and will vote on command, while breaking their habit of obedience by undermining authority. Then they didn't have the brains or balls to fix their mess.
But I hope they don't. What I hope is that the Democrats take a beating at the ballot boxand rethink their contempt for those mouth-breathing illiterates in the electorate.
Instead, McArdle is expressing her contempt for the mouth-breathing illiterates in the GOP. It's funny how life works out some time.
I hope Obama gets his wish to be a one-term president who passed health care. Not because I think I will like his opponent--I very much doubt that I will support much of anything Obama's opponent says. But because politicians shouldn't feel that the best route to electoral success is to lie to the voters, and then ignore them.
We're not a parliamentary democracy, and we don't have the mechanisms, like votes of no confidence, that parliamentary democracies use to provide a check on their politicians. The check that we have is that politicians care what the voters think. If that slips away, America's already quite toxic politics will become poisonous.
 American politics did become poisonous, but not because of the perfidy of duly elected officials. The Republican party lost control over its racist, sexist, authoritarian base, and the base turned around and ate them.

That wasn't supposed to happen. According to McArdle, the Republicans were sittin' pretty and about to take over the government for all time, or at least until they managed to drown it to death. Megan McArdle, in 2013:

Why I Think the GOP Will Have Control in 2017
McArdle states that "voters just get tired after eight years" and one party getting a third term is "really difficult," so it's fairly certain that Democrats will lose the presidency in 2016. Not to mention that Clinton is old, which McArdle is certain will hurt her chances.
Democrats who think they’re a shoo-in seem to be unaccountably banking on the GOP nominating some tongue-tied wingnut who will spend the campaign discussing the scientific evidence that women can’t get pregnant from rape. But as Joe Scarborough argued in 2012, this is wishful thinking . . . in his words, “The GOP doesn’t nominate crazy”.
 The GOP doesn't nominate crazy. Remember that if a crazy man decides to run in 2016. No worries, the GOP doesn't nominate crazy!
In 2012, out of an incredibly weak field filled with tongue-tied wingnuts, they nominated the moderate with the best public policy chops and solid debating skills. In 2016, they will have a much more attractive bevy of candidates from which to choose someone electable.
Chris Christie. Rick Perry. Scott Walker. Ted Cruz. Ben Carson. Carly Fiorina.  That's one hell of a line-up, McArdle!
So I think that the chances that the GOP takes the White House are probably pretty high–maybe around 75%. This is not a Nate-Silver-style I-ran-9,000-regressions-and-here’s-what-I-got. It’s just my gut estimate of the odds. When Nate starts running his projections, I will revise accordingly.
Now, if the GOP takes the White House, I think the chances that they also take the House approach 100%. They have a big structural advantage here, and the president will pull a bunch of Republicans in on his coattails. As far as I can tell, everyone agrees with this, so I won’t belabor it.
And now she is saying the exact opposite, because she was talking out of her ass in 2013.
The Senate is the biggest wildcard. 2016 is going to be a bit of a challenge for the GOP, since they’ll be defending the wave class of 2010. But some of those folks generally cited as liabilities, like Pat Toomey, actually seem to be doing okay. (In large part because they’ve tacked left on key issues, which should be a lesson to the Tea Party about the limits of primary challenges. But that’s a blog post for another day.) They’ll be helped by the fact that the president will have coattails in the Senate as well. ...
She gets paid a small fortune to think about politics and economics. I find that endlessly amusing, in a grim way. And she has spent her career pushing the same kind of gloom and doom that Trump pushes. Back to the present:
All of these sorts of speeches have a certain megalomaniacal quality; the genre simply calls for it. “I’ll make marginal changes which you often won’t like very much, and try not to screw anything up too badly” just doesn’t sell as well to voters as “I’ll fix all of the problems you’re worried about and some you didn’t even know you had.”
What was remarkable was not so much Trump’s absurdly high claims for his own abilities, but his absolutely relentless negativity about almost everything else. A slight majority of a CNN focus group rated the speech positively -- but it's plausible they were comparing the speech to Trump’s usual oeuvre, not to the sorts of things that a normal politician might say on a convention stage.
McArdle has been relentlessly negative about liberals.
There are, of course, many problems in this country. A lot of people feel economically insecure, including people who are currently decently well off, but no longer feel that they can count on that job, that income, that retirement nest egg, to be there in the future. Some Americans have indeed been killed by illegal immigrants, for any large group of people will contain at least a few who do terrible things. Decentralized terror networks represent a new and frightening threat to many Western countries, including our own. And the Obama administration has not offered any very satisfying solutions to these problems. Outlining those problems, and criticizing the opposition for ducking them, is absolutely fair political game.
Evidently, so was inciting anger against liberals and lying about the effects of liberal policy.
What was missing from the speech was any attempt to elaborate what, exactly, makes the country worth saving. There was the country we live in, which is in terrible, terrible shape, and Trump, who is amazing, and wants to use the power of his amazingness to make the rest of us amazing too. He made little appeal to the many proud moments of our history, to the many fine elements of the American character, to our constitutional liberties or entrepreneurial spirit. We’re supposed to support Trump simply because in the post-apocalyptic hellscape we now inhabit, it’s us against them, and we’d better make sure that “us” prevails.
McArdle thinks almost entirely on binary terms: Them vs. Us.
His demeanor reflected that tone. He barely smiled throughout the speech, even at moments where politicians usually do, such as when the crowd starts cheering for you. He delivered most of the speech with the outraged glare of someone arguing with a utility billing clerk, and after delivering each applause line, his face fell back into the sort of grimace generally favored by people who have just realized they’re about to be fired.
But this seemed to be what the crowd wanted. The big hits were praise of the police, attacks on Hillary Clinton, and anything perceived as making liberals look small. When he got into the part of the speech where he talked about what he might actually do, his audience started to look a bit bored, their clapping to sound dutiful rather than enthusiastic. Lucky for them, the policy section was brief. Trump's account of all the terrible things happening in America hardly left room for an expansive or detailed vision.
McArdle's bear-baiting posts that slam liberals get hundreds of more comments than her more anodyne posts.
He promised to be splendid on trade, fantastic at stopping immigration, and the most magnificent tax cutter you’ve ever seen. How was he going to accomplish these things? By being awesome, of course. After a year on the campaign trail, Trump still hasn’t really gotten beyond his own fantasticality as the basis of his policy agenda.
McArdle promises that the free market will solve all political and economic problems.
Of course, I’m not sure how much people will care. What the audience seemed to want was not so much someone to fix their problems as someone to validate their belief that these are problems -- problems that they feel liberals create and then systematically deny. As they say in 12-step programs, the first step is admitting that you have a problem, and if Trump seems like the only one who’s willing to make that admission, then, well, isn’t he one step beyond everyone else?
Unfortunately, while admitting problems is a good first step, it will not fix anything on its own. And in politics, at least, those next steps are a whole lot harder than the part where you say “something ought to be done.” Washington is full of people moaning that something needs to be done, but folks who can actually do something are rather thin on the ground.
McArdle tells us that nobody can do anything ever, unless the banks need something, in which case we must give it to them or the economy will collapse.
Trump likes to say that that’s why we need an outsider to bring some can-do spirit to the city. However. The generally poor management of his campaign and convention that were on display this week, the weak interview preparation and message discipline, the vague-to-absent positive agenda -- none of these bode well for next steps.
This will not just be a problem in his core issue areas -- immigration, trade, crime -- where his supporters could plausibly argue that they’re seeing darned little progress anyway, so who cares if he’s not particularly effective as long as he’s not making things worse? The president of the United States manages a vast number of policy issues, day in and day out, for at least four years, and these cannot all be finessed with vague generalities and off-the-cuff musings. Nor can this task simply be passed off to a vice president; the power of the office is what drives most of the forward motion on policy.
McArdle says the president has very little power every time she wants him to do nothing about something.
The world that Trump painted in his speech was a pretty dark place. A world in which the president of the world’s most powerful nation would only scowl and harangue and wait for applause, without ever trying to solve any problems. Imagine the nation under President Donald Trump, a nation paralyzed and backsliding. That truly is a dark and hopeless vision for America.
That is the reality of a Republican administration. You broke it, you bought it. You now belong to the Party of Trump.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Winner Takes All

Megan McArdle is indignant. Not only is Trump a vulgar bore, he isn't hiring any of her friends to run his campaign. If he had, they would have caught the plagiarism that somehow attached itself to the current Mrs. Trump's convention speech.
This is all of a piece with the way the Trump campaign has been run -- disorganized and understaffed. A team of those establishment insiders that Trump so likes to revile would probably have caught this and fixed it. Instead, his wife was humiliated in her first major speech.
After the campaign stole Michelle Obama's speechwriter's speech, they had the nerve to double down on their lies. Who would do something like that? Standards, people!
Writers know that it’s unlikely to hit on someone else’s words as closely as Melania Trump's speech copied Michelle Obama's. As my friend Terry Teachout once pointed out to me, highlighting as few as seven words of your own writing, and searching them in Google surrounded by quotation marks (which restricts the search to exact matches), is likely to produce exactly one hit: your work.
What could make a person think they could get away with deception? McArdle's close personal friend Terry Teachout told her (personally!) that it's very easy to catch. What were they thinking?

They were probably thinking the same thing as McArdle when she lied about drug innovation, or when she predicted that Obamacare would destroy American healthcare.  Nobody would notice and if anybody did they wouldn't care, and if they did care, one could just tell more lies to cover up the old ones. Republicans have been getting away with blatant lies for decades. They lied about everything, and McArdle passed on their lies as facts because the lies told her what she wanted to hear and because she was paid to pass them on. Republicans gained a lot of money and power through lying and the only reason they acknowledge Republican lies now is because they are no longer profiting off of them; Trump is.

It's easy to get away with lying. Readers won't abandon you; they tell themselves that the facts are liberal haters and anyway, Hitlery is worse. Billionaire bosses won't fire you; they need fake journalists who are willing to lie to please the advertisers. Your peers won't do anything to jeopardize their chance of being hired by billionaires.
This convention was supposed to be the event that established Donald Trump as someone who had what it takes to win the presidency, and to serve in that most demanding of offices. So far, it has only established him as someone who doesn’t really understand what it takes to do either job.
McArdle thinks this convention was the chance for the Republican establishment to put a leash on Trump, or for Trump to bow before them and humbly prove his loyalty to the Party. It still hasn't penetrated the dense, authoritarian wall she's put up in her brain that Trump doesn't care what the Party (or anyone else) wants. He doesn't value and admire her or her cohorts in politics and media. He doesn't want to pay them for their advice or services, so they can tell him what to think and do like their little Mario puppet. He wants to use them and throw them aside.

You built this, Republicans. You sowed the ground for Donald Trump, King of Lies.

Now reap your whirlwind.

My Gary Marshall Story

Gary Marshall, the director of Pretty Woman, has died. This is my Gary Marshall story.

I taught Hispanic, low income 7th graders (ages 13 and 14). Before a test day, when we wouldn't be able to teach but still had to control 150 kids while others tested, I reserved a VCR and tv from the school library. (Yes, it was very long ago.)

I passed around a sheet of paper and told the kids to write down the name of the movie they wanted to see, which I would rent for them as long as it was not rated R. Almost all of the boys wrote down American Me and almost all of the girls wrote down Pretty Woman, despite the R ratings. (I ended up renting My Bodyguard instead.)

It bothered me to see the young girls ask for Pretty Woman. A wealth fantasy about a gorgeous, clean, street hooker being rescued by a gorgeous, clean, businessman was not the sort of example I wanted them to have. Wealth fantasies are not good for anyone, and neither are fantasies of being rescued from poverty and degradation by a Prince Charming. I spent my time encouraging them to enrich their lives, to help them learn about the world around them, and to learn about themselves and other people. The ideas behind Pretty Woman are unhealthy trash for poor girls.

A few months after that (if I remember correctly), a couple of our students were picked up for prostitution. They were not arrested in a penthouse hotel room covered in diamonds or at the opera. One of my kids was arrested at a cheap motel with a john in his sixties.

Gary Marshall did a lot of harmless, brainless fluff. Most of it was aimed at undemanding viewers who got what they asked for-very little. But Pretty Woman was harmful. I don't blame that movie for the girls' acts; nothing has one simple, easy explanation. But it was one of my female students' favorite movies, by far, and it was a very bad influence on them.

So when someone mentions Gary Marshall I don't think about Happy Days or Mork and Mindy, both of which I watched in high school. I think of my 13-year old student sitting in class after her arrest, looking straight ahead,  knowing that everyone in the school knew what had happened to her and unable to look anyone in the eye.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Long, Dark Cocktail Hour Of The Soul

An oldie but goodie.

Megan McArdle, who sees everything in her world as a zero-sum, binary competition between her group and everyone else, thinks she understands the struggle going on within the Republican party.
This is not normal disappointment with an election that didn’t go your way. It’s not even a procedural battle about the rules, though a Louisiana delegate I walked next to certainly waxed lyrical about all the non-Trump reasons that the rules should be changed. Mostly, it’s a battle over what kind of party the Republicans want to be. And in the convention center this evening, the two sides appeared no closer to agreement.
It's the Republican Dark Night of the Soul! The forces of Good (the elite establishment and their loyal servants) are fighting the forces of Bad (Trump and his followers-not the Tea Party ones, the Neo-Nazi ones). McArdle dubs them Populist and Establishment, and tells them that they can either work together and win elections or they can fight and lose them.

At first McArdle said that Republicans were attracted to Trump because he was a celebrity, because the economy was bad for them, and because liberals accused them of being racist. As Trump gained more voters, you will not be surprised to hear that McArdle decided there are no villains, ideas germinate spontaneously, and people decided to follow Trump for no reason.
So whose fault is Trump then, if not the leadership of the Republican Party and the conservative movement?
I tend to think that’s a bad question. It is politics-as-novel, rather than politics-as-system. We are a large, fractious nation full of clashing interest groups and wildly differing opinions, as well as differing levels of engagement with politics. That system will often spit out results that most of us don’t like very much. Trying to ascribe those results to a person, or even a small group, is like blaming the weatherman because it’s raining, or an economist for a recession. You have selected the most visible target, not the most likely one. And, in the case of Democrats who fault Republicans for Trump, a very convenient target as well.
When Paul Ryan signed on, McArdle discovered that nice people can support Trump, too. But time turns kittens into cats, and now McArdle wants the Trump rump gone. There is the population and there is the elite. You belong to one or the other in varying degrees, according to the rules of authoritarian hierarchy. The two might have different goals but the elite exists to tell the littlebrains how to live and the little brains exist to listen and obey.

Which brings us to McArdle's in-person report at the Republican National Convention. She briefly describes the clashes between Trump and Establishment forces, which the elite lost, and then goes on to scold conservatives for refusing to unite for the sake of future elections.
It’s hard to see how those two groups reconcile any time soon. Right now, at least, they have one thin thread holding them together: the need to unify in order to defeat Hillary Clinton. If Trump loses in November, as still seems very likely, then that thread will snap. Trump supporters will blame the Establishment for a stab in the back; anti-Trump forces will blame his supporters for nominating a candidate so unelectable that he could lose to a lackluster candidate like Hillary Clinton. The rebellion that was put down today could easily turn into a civil war.
The fact is that -- as I suspect Trump supporters are about to find out -- the party’s populist and establishment wings need each other. The populists supply energy, yes, but they are blind to the tedious-yet-necessary business of raising money, running campaigns, building legislative coalitions, and keeping your candidate from alienating too many voters.
The establishment wing obviously can’t win an election without its populists, notwithstanding all the bitter remarks about purging the Trump element from the party. If they want to win elections, they'll probably need to ask themselves a question I once heard offered to a newlywed in some sort of marital crisis: “Do you want to be married, or do you want to be right?”
As of yet, the answer seems to be they want to be “right.” Our nation’s first Republican president once said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Neither can a party.

McArdle is waiting for everyone to come to their sense and go back to obeying the elite so everything can go back to normal. She doesn't think it is possible for her elite to lose power or be replaced by a slightly different elite. The Populists must give up their little obsessions if they want to elect people like Rubio or Jeb!. The angry, violent-tinged Trump contingency will, no doubt, settle down and forget all about their own goals for the good of the Party Establishment.

No doubt.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Mercifully Shorter Megan McArdle

I do not say often enough that Megan McArdle is a very poor writer.
Both victims and the groups from which most of the victimizers are drawn need a refresher on probability: “Most sexual harassers are men” is not the same statement as “most men are sexual harassers.” And the righteous majority of men, or police officers, probably has more in common with victims of sexual harassment, or victims of police brutality, than with the perpetrators.
The rest of the post is Both Siderism, applied to rape and police brutality. A girl's gotta have a gimmick if she wants to get applause.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

More McMegan Failure To Enjoy!

Andrew Johnston is reviewing The Upside Of Down, Megan McArdle's book about Megan McArdle and how failure leads to success for Megan McArdle. Go read and join the fun!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

It's All In The Details

But--what happened to failing upwards??

I did not address a choice little bit of dishonesty in McArdle's #NeverTrump post so let's look at her claim that the people didn't really want Trump when they voted for him.
Moreover, the primary’s not really like a government election -- it’s a multi-stage process that doesn’t cleanly express the will of the voters as a single-day election does. And Trump didn’t even get a majority of the votes in the primary. So you can't quite argue that the convention is overturning the will of the voters, a majority of whom wanted someone else. (And still do, according to a new poll from Fox). That, I think, gives the rules committee the moral right to let delegates choose someone else, if they want.
It is not a great surprise that Trump got less than a majority of the vote, considering how many people were running. It is also irrelevant. From Wikipedia:

As we can see, Trump received the largest percentage of votes, at 44.54. The next biggest was Cruz at a comparatively measly 25.27%. I'm not sure why McArdle thinks that it would be moral to give the election to someone else just because there were more than two people running. It's not Trump's fault that the Republicans like to fill a clown car with candidates.

Who should get the nomination? Rubio, with 11.44%? That's not very moral. Perhaps the Republican party can make a Muppet man out of Cruz, Rubio, and Kasich. Then they would finally have more of the vote than Trump.

From top to bottom, Rubio (he was smallest), Kasich, and Cruz. Vote for the moral candidate(s)!

Monday, July 4, 2016

The Megan McArdle Revolution

It takes a lot of arrogance to assume you have the right to overthrow elections, but if you are Megan McArdle, all it takes is a keyboard.
Is it time to Dump Trump?
Long past, #NeverTrumpers would say. Many of them in my vicinity have been wistfully speculating on the means, from convention coup to public-spirited time travelers, by which Donald Trump might be removed from the top of the Republican ticket.
It doesn't matter what #NeverTrumpers say because they will #NeverWin. They've already lost and McArdle's latest boy band crush, Marco Rubio, made a very authoritarian statement in support of Trump.
I signed a pledge, put my name on it, and said I would support the Republican nominee and that’s what I intend to do.
When William Krystol finally held up his #NeverTrump candidate to take over as presidential candidate it was David French, the National Review candidate most likely to be arrested for barricading himself in his house surrounded by guns, praying for God to save his pure children from the invading Muslim hordes. Meanwhile, McArdle's eco-crush, Paul Ryan, endorsed Trump, as did many others. The #NeverTrump movement gave up.
“We are kind of in a reorganizational phase,” says Rory Cooper of the Never Trump super PAC, noting that the group will have a better assessment after the convention.
“I think there is a really huge misconception about what the Never Trump movement is. Somehow it’s conveniently become shorthand for a third party candidate,” Cooper says. “But Never Trump is really a lot simpler than that. We don't want the party to become an echo chamber of his beliefs.”
Cooper says the group is planning to focus on ways to protect the party from Trump, and to prepare it for what comes after the November election.
If the Republican leadership and the leadership of #NeverTrump have given up and the money people of #NeverTrump have given up, who is keeping the movement afloat? Megan McArdle's friends and relatives, of course! From February 29, 2016:
Over the past week, as it’s begun to sink in that -- no foolin’ -- Donald Trump might really be the nominee, I began to notice a trend among family and friends who are stalwart Republicans. These are people who consistently vote, and consistently vote (R) straight down the line. And they are tortured because they cannot bring themselves to vote for the Republican nominee this year, if the Republican nominee is Trump.
“She’s beside herself,” my mother said of a near relation, who is apparently seriously considering voting for a Democrat for the first time. I wanted to understand this phenomenon better. I asked on Twitter whether this was a real thing, just as the hashtag #NeverTrump began trending. And I got an earful. So I invited lifelong Republicans who had decided that they couldn’t vote for Trump in the general, even if he got the nomination, to tell me their stories. Hundreds of e-mails poured in, and are still arriving. They're informative.
McArdle's relatives have always voted a straight Republican ticket, which isn't authoritarian at all, and now they can't vote for the man who is not their authority. Amazing! This inability to vote for their guy, whomever he might have been, has tortured them. McArdle knows that all good and right people agree with her and her nearest and dearest, as hundreds of emails verified. McArdle often gets hundreds of comments; no doubt she is also amazed that they agree with her as well, as I am absolutely sure that such agreement can only reinforce her self-esteem and her belief in her own wisdom. As we shall soon see, McArdle also has done the math, and it always proves her right.
But the case for doing so has become stronger with three pieces of news. First, the revelation that he has, to a first approximation, done none of the things necessary to build a viable campaign, such as raising funds or hiring staff.
Which is how Trump lost the nomination!
Second, he is trailing Clinton so badly that his supporters have already resorted to the kind of poll “unskewing” rituals that are traditionally reserved for the first week of every fourth November.
If your presidential candidate is losing the pre-election polls, you can toss him out with the used bunting. McArdle's election rules are fascinating; she must tells us where she read them.
And third, Nate Silver has released his election forecast on his FiveThirtyEight blog, giving Trump just a 20-26 percent chance of winning the election.
See: News Item #2.
So let us consider three questions:  
1.Would the Republican Party be better off if they staged a coup at the convention and substituted another candidate?  
2.Does the Republican Party have a moral right to stage such a coup?  
3.Can the Republican Party manage to pull it off?
The answer to the first question is, I think, simply obviously “Yes.” Consider the magnitude of Trump’s campaigning incompetence.
McArdle restates that Trump doesn't bother to run a proper campaign and is a pariah in the party.
[...] Leaving this man on top of the ticket in November will not only mean probably losing the presidency, but bring a down-ticket disaster for the party.
FiveThirtyEight is only forecasting the presidency so far, but their forecast matches the forecast of prediction markets, which also place the odds of Republicans losing the Senate at 60%, and losing the House at almost 20%. In other words, if you believe the betting market, the chances that Hillary Clinton gets to be president with solid majorities in House and Senate are on par with Trump's chance of getting to be president at all. And I think the odds of losing the House are probably understated.
While we tend to focus mostly on the presidency, a party is a much larger entity that needs to build a coalition to wield power -- and for this reason, the fates of its members are strongly intertwined. In a presidential election year, candidates for the House, Senate, and even local elections get a free ride on the presidential campaign efforts. People voting for your party's presidential candidate will probably also vote for your party in the House and Senate.
Getting people to the polls is hard. This is not like a primary, where you need a relatively small number of highly motivated voters to come out and swing the election your way; this is the Big Game, where you need to get well north of 60 million folks into the ballot booth. By definition, the last 10 million or so are going to be the ones who aren’t that interested in politics, and need a little push to get them to take the time out of their day. That’s why candidates spend so much time building up their get-out-the-vote operations.
Trump so far has shown no signs of developing either the money or the campaign infrastructure to mount the kind of operation that the typical Republican presidential candidate would put on, which helps shore up down-ticket races even when the candidate loses (as Mitt Romney did in 2012)....
Even if dumping Trump causes some of his supporters to stay home, getting someone else to lead the ticket would at least enable the party to raise the funds and staff a campaign that could help other Republican candidates. And of course, some of the losses would be made up by recovering #NeverTrump voters from the Gary Johnson/Bill Weld Libertarian ticket. The object at this point is not to win the presidency; it’s to keep from losing everything else.
 We can see that it's very important to have a powerful Republican party, to elect Congressmen who will be powerful enough to enact Republican policies and save the world.

Now we are getting to the good stuff. It's all very well and good to say that one can and should, for practical reasons, subvert the democratic process. But it is the moral thing to do? We all know that Republicans are from the moral party that won't break a Commandment or do what Jesus would not do. Subverting democracy doesn't seem like the moral thing to do, considering how dearly Republicans clutch the Constitution to their chests. It's stealing the nomination from someone who won it legally. Thou Shalt Not Take What Belongs To Someone Else encompasses most of the Commandments, in fact.

But as we all know, rules are for the followers, not the leaders, in an authoritarian society. The people spoke, the people chose, but the people are littlebrains who need to be told what to do by the smart, educated people who were born and bred to lead. But who are not the wrong type of elite! because only liberals are that elite.
Trump supporters might justly protest that he won the nomination fair and square, and the party has no right to rob him of his due. I’ve thought long and hard about this. But overall, I think the party does have the moral right to remove Trump.

Yes, McArdle says she's thought long and hard on the moral issue. As we all know, the elite of the right kind are more moral and therefore more qualified to mediate moral decisions. Who could be more qualified than a (very) lapsed Catholic who said children should be trained to rush gunmen in a libertarian Hunger Games, to protect the gun industry's second amendment rights?
All political systems strike an imperfect balance between democratic responsiveness and undemocratic institutions that limit responsiveness in the name of efficiency and stability. You can't decide where to put roads by democratic referenda, and you also can't run a legitimate democratic state by putting all the important decisions in the hands of unelected technocrats.
The tree of liberty bears a poisoned fruit. Since you must let your elected officials or their public servants do what they were elected or hired to do, perfect democracy does not exist. Because democracy is not perfect, it is morally justified to deprive the American people (white ones, no less!) of their right to representative government. It's for their own good.

We can argue whether we've gone too far in one direction or the other, but the moment you concede we need some kind of bureaucracy, some appointed judges, some constitutional rights that cannot be willy-nilly overruled, then we’re no longer debating whether it’s okay to have anti-democratic elements in the political system. To steal a line from George Bernard Shaw (or, er, some other famous person), now we’re just haggling over the price.
McArdle is an expert in both failure and political whoredom, so trust her.
I'd still draw the line at overturning the results of a democratic election that you don’t like. And yet … a party is not the same as a government. It’s a coalition designed to get things done within that government.
Those "things done" are getting people elected to government office, which definitely does have something to do with government. McArdle begins by saying that Trump must be deposed to save the down-ticket elections, including Congress. The Party must be strong to do its "things" and Trump is weakening it!

Now we are told that the Party is just a coalition of people gettin' stuff done within that government. They have no power, unlike the liberal elite government.
Which means that the restrictions on what it can and can't do are considerably lighter, precisely because it does not have direct power over our lives. Parties are ultimately a private association, and if you don’t like how they choose to govern themselves, you can easily go out and join a different political party. The same cannot be said for the U.S. government.
This little passage contradicts anything McArdle has ever written about the importance of the Supreme Court, but we are accustomed to McArdle's little ways.

You can always become a liberal (boo!) or a libertarian (who?) or maybe some other powerful political party not yet a-born. The free market of political parties will ensure that you find the right party for you. Supply always meets demand.
Moreover, the primary’s not really like a government election -- it’s a multi-stage process that doesn’t cleanly express the will of the voters as a single-day election does. And Trump didn’t even get a majority of the votes in the primary. So you can't quite argue that the convention is overturning the will of the voters, a majority of whom wanted someone else. (And still do, according to a new poll from Fox). That, I think, gives the rules committee the moral right to let delegates choose someone else, if they want.
If you ignore the rules, which are unclear and for the little people anyway, you can say that you won, not lost. That, I think, gives the elite the moral right to skip voting and go straight to the proper nomination.

If they want.

McArdle burbles on that the religious right and moderates couldn't work together.
Since those folks can’t agree on a consensus candidate, they're mostly standing around in their respective clumps, wistfully sighing that they’d sure love to vote for Donald Trump if he’d only stop being so vile for a few minutes.
What we’re seeing in the Republican Party, in fact, is a replay of the very forces that let Trump stage a hostile takeover of its apparatus: the two sides are so far apart that there is seemingly no candidate that can unify them. And in the gap in between those two sides, we get chaos.
That was very helpful. Now we know the moral case for voiding elections: the voters picked the wrong guy, who is bound to lose.